My journey as president of the Irish Shows Association began on 23 November 2019, when I took over from David Sheehan at the AGM, which took place in the Bloomfield House Hotel, Mullingar, Co Westmeath.

At that point, I was eagerly focusing on the impending showing season for 2020. Unfortunately, Covid-19 hit our shores and all agricultural shows were cancelled for 2020 and 2021. The 2022 showing season got under way on 30 April in Thomastown, Co Kilkenny. This was a historic day, as it was the first show back on the calendar for 2022.

I was glad to be present at this event, the first one in my role as president, and travelled on to Newmarket-on-Fergus the following day.

Sponsorship plays a vitally important part in keeping our shows viable. I extend an expression of gratitude to our numerous sponsors for their unrelenting support to the national championship finals and the local shows. On behalf of the Irish Shows Association, I sincerely thank you all for your continuous support.

Due to a very high standard of exhibits at our shows, judges have a very difficult task in making their decision, but I would request that all exhibitors accept the outcome in a competitive spirit. I acknowledge the ongoing support from the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine for their funding towards our rising insurance costs.

Due to increased premium costs for 2022, I engaged in preliminary discussions with the Minister for Agriculture, Charlie McConalogue, with a view to obtaining further financial support. At this point, a further meeting with the minister is being organised and will take place shortly.

I am delighted that the Northern Ireland shows have been successful in their bid to obtain funding from the Northern Assembly.

Catherine Gallagher.

One of the greatest challenges I see happening in agriculture today is the urban-rural divide. Until recently, most urban families had a connection with rural families and it gave young people access to farming practices, with an appreciation of how food is grown and produced.

I would encourage all show committees to compile an attractive programme of events to entice the urban community to attend agricultural shows

Agricultural shows provide people from cities and regional towns with a better understanding of the rural way of life. They are a social event that local communities look forward to and they provide a tourism boost to many small towns and parishes throughout Ireland.

I would encourage all show committees to compile an attractive programme of events to entice the urban community to attend agricultural shows.

Young stockperson competition

Leading on from last year’s inaugural All-Ireland Young Stockperson Championship, which was held behind closed doors in Tullamore Mart, this year’s qualifiers will be held at a number of shows throughout the country and the final will take place at Trim Show on 4 September 2022. I would encourage as many young people as possible to participate in this and to experience all that it has to offer.

This competition is sponsored by FBD Insurance and the Irish Farmers Journal. The Irish Shows Association would like to thank them both for their generous sponsorship.

I am looking forward to visiting as many shows as possible and meeting the numerous volunteers and committee members throughout Ireland. I appeal to all communities, rural and urban, to come out and support their local show.